Opening Sessions

Opening Sessions Fall 2023 Save the Date!

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Join us as we kickstart the Fall 2023 semester at LaGuardia Community College at Opening Sessions.

Student Success: Inspiration, Cultivation, and Application

Over the past year, our college has shifted from a hybrid mode of learning to mostly in-person classes after a long quarantine period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The effects of isolation are still apparent in our classrooms, and we are working hard to refresh and reimagine student engagement. The Opening Sessions Committee surveyed the college community to determine the most important conversation that needs to be had at LaGuardia right now. Faculty and staff agree that student success is the theme of 2023-24. The challenges that our students are facing post-pandemic have stimulated crucial conversations about recruitment, enrollment, advising, teaching, and pedagogy to enhance student engagement. 

During Opening Sessions, we will explore questions like: What do we observe about student success? How do students define success compared to our institutional expectations? Where do we see triumphs or gaps? As an institution, how can we collectively address these gaps? How can we create a culture of success and implement strategies and tools that support it? Lastly, how can we involve students in the process since it is ultimately about their own success? 

Together, we reignite our dedication to student success by coming together as a team of professionals who build trust, provide guidance, and nurture opportunities. Our collective efforts will inspire students to reach their full potential.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Christine Harrington: Professor and Co-Coordinator, Ed. D. in Community College Leadership New Jersey City University


Main Stage Theater Lobby — 8am-9am; Breakfast and Check-in

Main Stage Theater — 9am-11am; Plenary Session

Main Stage Theater — 10:45am-11am; Coffee break

Location TBD — 9am-5pm; Student art exhibit and showcase

E-500 and E-501 — 1:15pm-2:15pm; New Faculty and Staff Luncheon

E-Atrium — 1:15pm-2:15pm; PSC Chapter Luncheon

E-111 — 1:15pm-2:15pm; Student Success Mentors (SSM) Meet and Greet

E-Atrium — 3:45pm-5pm; Coffee & Cake Reception

We will have breakout sessions in two segments from 11:10am-12pm and then from 12:15pm-1:05pm.

Concurrent Workshops

Register for Concurrent Workshops

11:10am-12pm (50 Minutes)

Room: E-Building, E-217
Presenter(s): Paul Arcario, Koun Eum, Deema Bayrakdar

In this workshop, we will first present the implementation of the Mindfulness Corps program within the first-year seminars, highlighting the outcomes and data from the 2022-2023 academic year. We will then showcase the development of on-campus events and support programs that have been established to promote mindfulness practice since the launch of the Mindfulness Corps in 2022. Additionally, we will introduce various opportunities for interested faculty and staff to collaborate and co-facilitate on-campus events aimed at cultivating mindfulness within the LaGuardia Community College community.

Room: E-Building, E-225
Presenter(s): Jeanne Funk (MEC); Reem Jaafar (MEC)

The abilities to access information and effectively demonstrate mastery of course objectives are central to education and critical to students’ success.  This can only be achieved when education is universally accessible, taking into consideration the diverse needs and abilities of all learners. This is particularly important at open-access institutions like ours.  In this context, we are presenting a workshop dedicated to enhancing the accessibility of education for all learners.

The workshop will start with an overview of Universal Design, a framework aimed at making environments, products, and services more accessible to people with diverse abilities. The focus will then shift to the application of this design framework to make learning experiences more inclusive and engaging.

We will include an overview of Universal Design and its applications to education; concrete tips for incorporating Universal Design into teaching practice, including course materials, classroom experience, and assessment; and concrete tips for supporting students who are neurodivergent, deaf/hard-of-hearing, and blind/low-vision.

We will also introduce opportunities for further engagement with and collaboration on Universal Design and accessibility, and provide additional resources for further exploration of Universal Design and accessibility. These will include research papers, case studies, and online platforms. We will solicit ideas for building and sustaining a community of practice dedicated to accessibility at LaGuardia. 

Room: E-Building, E-238
Presenter(s): Molly Rosner, Stephen Weinstein, Stephen Petrus

Join us for a workshop on the ways historical materials can be used to foster discussion about contemporary issues facing LaGuardia students and New York City. See the resources that the archives can offer your classroom and learn about the pedagogical tools we use to encourage students to engage with current events and their communities.

We have found that students know very little about local government and the ways they can impact their surroundings. We believe that encouraging students to learn about how to make change in their communities can be empowering both within and outside of coursework. We will be looking at some of our online resources, artifacts and documents and brainstorming connections to syllabi of the faculty who attend. 

Room: E-Building, E-229
Presenter(s): Kayla Williams and Srishti Jain

The Center for Career & Professional Development emphasizes student success in the world-of-work as a crucial step in bridging the gap between education-and-employment, student employability, and job market preparation. Through Experiential Learning initiatives, CCPD enables students to explore career opportunities, connect theories and knowledge learned in the classroom to real-world situations, and develop employability skills necessary to become competitive in their future career pursuits. Through the SOAR Experiential Learning Program, students participate in internships, Service Learning, Hackathons, Job Shadowing, Site Visits, Volunteerism, Professional Development Events, Career Panels/Guest Speakers, etc. These opportunities allow students to engage in learning by inspiring, cultivating, and applying meaningful experiences outside of the classroom. 

Room: E-Building, E-253
Presenter(s): Jennifer Mitchell-Mayer, LCSW and Desiree Rodriguez, MHC-LP

In this innovative and highly interactive workshop, participants will explore the ways that mental health issues and anxiety can be addressed with students, in order to ensure students success. Participants will learn the early warning signs that students may be experiencing anxiety and distress, how this can show up in the college environments, and discuss effective strategies that educators can use to address the mental health of their students. The workshop offers concrete and applicable tools and resources that staff can utilize to ensure positive mental health of their students, including de-escalation techniques, intervention strategies, and useful mental health resources that can be beneficial to students.

Room: E-Building, E-258
Presenter(s): Dr. Christine Harrington 

Discover student-endorsed and research-based approaches to assignments.  Be challenged to think beyond traditional assignments and develop assignments that validate, honor, stretch, and engage your students.  Explore how to use choice, transparency, structure, and support to increase student success.

Room: E-Building, E-260
Presenter(s): Annette Hamilton and Dr. Gail Baksh-Jarrett, Student Financial Services

Student Financial Service’s (SFS) strategic, collaborative and integrated approach to increase enrollment, and retention facilitates student success.  SFS will present financial, and academic information that is vital to support students’ educational journey.

Room: E-Building, E-262
Presenter(s): Kristina Graham (CTL), Ellen Quish (CTL), Preethi Radhakrishnan

LaGuardia’s FYS Open Education Resource (OER) initiative aims to create and curate meaningful and accessible content to support the success of students new to the college. Now entering its third and final year, the project continues to develop the OER and to leverage student experience and knowledge through its ongoing use of open pedagogy in two ways. First, by the intentional involvement of students in content creation and content review. And second, by soliciting and incorporating feedback from FYS students who have been assigned the LaGuardia FYS Textbook in an FYS course. The presenters will provide an overview of the open pedagogy process and practices that have led to the development of this inclusive OER and highlight takeaways for immediate application to enhance student success in other contexts. 

Room: E-Building, E-264
Presenter(s): Cory Feldman (Social Science), Kathy Mora (College Way and the LaGuardia Community College Justice Scholars)

LaGuardia Community College has been working in partnership with College Way, a non-profit, grassroots education organization to bring LaGuardia Community College courses to people in jail. Ten LaGuardia students known as “Justice Fellows” from a range of majors designed and facilitate classes for incarcerated students.

This presentation will offer a simulation of a class in jail and explore the strategies used to recruit, train, and bring students to Rikers Island. Students will also discuss their experiences working inside of jails. LaGuardia initiatives to expand current efforts to recruit, retain, and graduate justice impacted people will also be discussed.

Room: E-Building, E-265
Presenter(s): Doyel Pal (MEC), Midas Tsai (NS)

According to a recent report from the Center for Urban Future, LaGuardia is recognized for graduating a significant number of students with STEM degrees and ranks third within all CUNY colleges.

LaGuardia in collaboration with Queens College(QC), has secured a $4.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to launch the Queens STEM Academy (Q-STEM) to increase STEM access and success.

Q-STEM is focused on recruiting Hispanic, low-income, and underrepresented minority students into STEM majors, enhancing STEM education at LaGCC, facilitating seamless transfer to QC, and providing comprehensive career guidance.

This grant presents a valuable opportunity to improve equity in access and transfer within STEM.

During the 2022-2023 academic year, the first full year of grant activities, we undertook collaborative efforts across various areas to enhance the student learning experience. These initiatives included co-curricular activities, summer research participation, peer tutoring programs, Virtual communities, and learning communities.

The long-term success of the Academy will rely on fostering a robust network of collaboration and internal partnerships. These partnerships aim to sustain and enhance all dimensions of the student experience to cultivate a culture of success.

In this presentation, we show how our activities align with LaGuardia’s culture of success. We highlight how we are leveraging partnerships, data, and students’ experiences to inform future improvements to serve the needs of STEM students. We share how faculty can take advantage of the Academy’s offering to support their students. Finally, we solicit input from the audience on how to improve STEM access. 

Room: E-Building, E-266
Presenter(s): Paul Fess

This session will explore ways to create community agreements around the limits and affordances of using artificial intelligence (or A.I.) in the classroom. At the end of last year, A.I. caused panic amongst educators as sophisticated versions of this type of software, using large language models, began to yield essays and other student assignments that remarkably mimicked human responses. Since its inception the prevailing opinion is that A.I.’s disruption is permanent and likely to become more profound as the technology improves. Initial reactions from educators have ranged from fearfully banning this technology to finding ways to begrudgingly accept it. This session enters this conversation by presenting community agreements as a tool for managing the trepidation and hope engendered by A.I. technology and focus the issues A.I. raises around student success. It will be structured by a short presentation introducing A.I. and community agreements followed by a workshop that asks participants to develop their own agreements around this topic.  


12:15pm-1:05pm (50 Minutes)

Room: E-Building, E-217
Presenter(s): J. Elizabeth Clark (English), Kasey Powers (CTL and Social Science), Benjamin Taylor (Natural Sciences), Tonya Hendrix (Natural Sciences)

Over the past year, a group of faculty members drawing from the humanities, social sciences, and sciences engaged in a CTL seminar that focused on the liberal arts at LaGuardia. A key component of this seminar was the development of a new midpoint course for all liberal arts students, LIN150: Research in the Liberal Arts. The course will be an urban studies course and will assess the global learning competency. Integral to this course is engaging students in the scope of liberal arts research as it applies to the humanities, social sciences, science, and mathematics. To accomplish this, faculty teaching the course will have students participate in co-curricular activities, in which data will be collected. Given the interdisciplinary nature of this course, the data collected will be representative of each discipline within the liberal arts. In addition, the scope of each co-curricular activity is intended to encompass the urban studies aspect of the course, but will also be connected to a larger, global problem (e.g. water conservation, food scarcity, climate change). In this workshop, faculty will work in cross-disciplinary groups to collaborate and brainstorm a variety of co-curricular activities. Additionally, groups will conceptualize the types of data that can be collected for each activity and how the co-curricular event will connect to the urban studies and global learning aspects of the course.

Room: E-Building, E-225
Presenter(s): Marsha Oropeza (CPL), Christine Pardo (CPL), Nedelka Sotelo(CPL), Tomonori Nagano (CPL and ELA)

In this presentation you will learn about Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) and its expansion at LaGuardia through the Credits for Success initiative. With funding from Robin Hood Foundation, LaGuardia established the Office of Credit for Prior Learning which leverages CUNY’s new Credit for Prior Learning policy to pioneer a college completion and workforce development equity agenda.  Through Credits for Success, LAGCC’s goal is to establish a network of guided pathways that incorporate an ACE-to credit pipeline for New Yorkers who have some college (stop-outs), and/or have accumulated educational debt. The Credits for Success initiative have expanded our culture of collaboration between Academic Affairs and Adult and Continuing Education to also include building direct pipelines with community-based organizations in Queens. Learn how the CPL office supports this academic process by providing oversight of the CPL policy and advocacy on behalf of our students, as well as expanding the knowledge and value of CPL with the LaGuardia community. Most importantly, you will hear from students who have directly benefited from CPL and how it shaped their success and trajectory at LaGuardia.

Room: E-Building, E-227
Presenter(s): Jessica Kindred (Social Science)

Reflecting on the pandemic, we watched the unfolding of a revolution of student culture in the application of WhatsApp from international family use to class group use. The success of LaGuardia students graduating was attributed to adaptation to zoom and blackboard, but in fact we lost many students in that first semester before What’s App swept across the educational landscape from the ground up. It was this cultural transfer of Whats App use by which students created the pandemic hallway, the network, and the success of schooling in the pandemic through the ability to socially connect.
Being Them is an activity that can be adapted to any learning area to unify the learning goals with the social needs of students. This workshop will demonstrate this activity and its flexibility to any area of content, and provide a toolbox for its implementation.

Room: E-Building, E-229
Presenter(s): Dušana Podlucká (Social Science)

As a faculty participating in the the CUNY-wide, NSF-funded research study Faculty Development and Student Engagement in Data Analysis (FDSEDA): Building Capacity in Numeracy among Underrepresented Students and its Data Analysis Research Experience (DARE) Program focusing on the infusing quantitative reasoning and data analysis in the curriculum in this presentation I will share my students’ and my experiences of implementing DARE assignment in Social Psychology course. In the first part of the presentation I will explain goals and objectives of DARE assignment which focuses on strengthening quantitative skills of the students. Those include students’ ability to design survey questions and collect data using Google forms; work with spreadsheet software to manipulate and analyze data; prepare bivariate pivot tables using Excel or Google sheets; convert raw numbers from tables to percentages; prepare graphs in Excel/Google sheets, such as stacked bar charts; and write appropriately about quantitative data, including tables with percentages. Participants of the workshop will have an opportunity to try out their quantitative skills and data interpretation and thus better understand some of the challenges of learning and teaching quantitative reasoning. Finally, I will share my DARE project and discuss its  impact on students’ mastery of quantitative skills, their engagement, learning and development, and my own pedagogy. For example, DARE assignment created context for collaborative learning, promoted accessibility of learning, and resulted in other transformative changes in students and my teaching.


Room: E-Building, E-253
Presenter(s): Milena Cuellar (MEC), Ellen Quish (Academic Affairs), Reem Jaafar (MEC)

LaGuardia Community College’s priority is to serve a diverse body of students and build an inclusive community, as stated in our mission and strategic plan. This presentation is designed to advance abilities and awareness for cultivating inclusive learning environments, with examples in the STEM disciplines. However, these ideas and practices are valuable to individuals in all fields and aspects of education. During the session, we will collaboratively learn from each other how to cultivate an inclusive teaching environment for all our students. We will engage in a dialogue related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, collaborating to establish a vocabulary related to inclusive teaching practices. We will explore ways of understanding how our identities, power, and experience influence student learning outcomes, as well as how students’ learning experiences inform their identities. We hope to inspire participants to challenge themselves in meaningful ways by critically and purposefully reflecting on their own practices, biases, and assumptions. We will conclude by presenting ideas on how to center diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in our teaching and interactions with students and other community members. Participants will be involved in several activities during which they will share their ideas in groups and with the larger group, using physical materials like post-its and drawing boards, as well as online polling tools.

Room: E-Building, E-258
Presenter(s): Tameka Battle (Health Science), Maureen Doyle (Health Science), Jason Hendrickson (English)

This interactive “fish-bowl” forum focuses on the role of the complex, multidimensional, term, “Career Readiness.” Considering the college mission, the shifting terrain of higher education, and existential challenges to CUNY (e.g. enrollment, retention, post-pandemic attitudes toward higher education), it is imperative that the college community reckon with this idea. What does career readiness mean, conceptually? Is it a conduit or impediment to student success? What does it mean in practical terms for how we serve our students, be it in our programs, classrooms, mentorship capacities, or everyday interactions? What is the legacy of career readiness at LaGuardia, its pitfalls, and what is its potential, moving forward? In our session, discussants will begin a conversation about the term and open the conversation to the audience. Discussants will also share their work and vision as members of CUNY’s Career Success Fellows Program.  

Room: E-Building, E-260
Presenter(s): Natural Science: Preethi Radhakrishnan Holly Porter Morgan Ingrid Veras Christopher Farley; Kevin Mark Nutrition/Culinary Arts: Nicolle Fernandes Administration: Cristina Natale

The land is the real teacher. All we need as students is mindfulness.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass. The term student engagement can be described as a students’ individual commitment to learning captured through participation, commitment and investment. There are several aspects to this type of engagement namely, behavioral, cognitive, emotional and agentic engagement. In this workshop, we will focus on agentic engagement and how it might be fostered through experiential learning internships focused on service-based learning, being part of a college-wide sustainability council and the climate reality club. The common thread in this workshop is engaging students to become the next generation of stewards of the land in learning about the climate crisis and engaging in climate justice, sustainable practices.

Room: E-Building, E-262
Presenter(s): Jennifer Mitchell-Mayer (LCSW)

In this engaging workshop, participants will explore themes around ‘vicarious trauma’ or ‘compassion fatigue’ and identify indicators of feeling burn out. This workshop will explore how to address feeling overwhelmed, and effective strategies that faculty can use to address their own self care, so that they in turn can best support their students success. The workshop offers concrete and applicable tools and resources that faculty and staff can utilize to ensure their own positive mental health and prevent vicarious trauma. 

Room: E-Building, E-264
Presenter(s): Bryant Caba and Yevgeniya Granovskaya, Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) 

“Career readiness is a critical part of students’ postgraduate success in the workforce. The National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2022 Student Survey found that graduating seniors who used career center services received more job offers on average, compared to their peers who did not.” (Mowreader, A., 2023).  In this session, we will introduce the student services provided by CCPD and ways to collaborate and enhance student engagement. We will introduce our online tools (Career Connect and Career Coach), revisit successful collaborations and review ways to engage with the center.  

Room: E-Building, E-265
Presenter(s): Malgorzata Marciniak and Yun Ye, Department of Mathematics, Engineering and Computer Science

In this presentation, we will introduce a pedagogical practice to incorporate digital graph and game play in student projects. The project implementation provides students with immersive learning experience including visionary and tactile stimulation through use of technology. Examples of three student projects are demonstrated to showcase the common procedures in our study on inclusive education. They are the chromatherapy project designed for students to understand the psychological effect of light colors, the artistic graphing project designed for students to create holiday decorations using computer coding skills, and the priority switch project for students to learn the math concept of speed and resource allocation via game play. 

Committee Chairs & Members

David Stott, Co-Chair
Deema Bayrakdar, Co-Chair
Women’s Center and LGBTQIA Safe Zone Hub
Cristina Natale, Co-Chair
Administration and Finance
Jasmine Edwards, Co-Chair
Health Sciences
Alexa Duque
Jenny Lugo
Bindu Pillai
Business and Technology
David Brandt
Center for Teaching and Learning
Ellen Quish
Center for Teaching & Learning
Faith Armstrong
Health Sciences
Tameka Battle
Health Sciences
Kamrul Huda
Health Sciences
Lorena Maldonado
Health Sciences
Deborah McMillan-Coddington
Health Sciences
Donna Siergie-Munsey
Health Sciences
May Tom
Health Sciences
Jason Schafer
Alexandra Rojas
Malgorzata Marciniak
Math, Engineering, and Computer Science
Howard Motoike
Natural Sciences
Holly Porter-Morgan
Natural Sciences
Midas Tsai
Natural Sciences